Google Analytics For The Enterprise: Perception & Reality
Last year Google released Google Analytics premium in an effort to expand its enterprise clientele. But for some people, Google Analytics is still perceived as less professional/enterprise than other tools. In this post I try to explain whether this perception is rightfully attributed to Google Analytics and why it happens.
Google Analytics Enterprise Market Stats
In a recent presentation entitled Mythbusting Google Analytics (link to video), Stephane Hamel discussed several Google Analytics myths and showed why they are mostly not true. Below are the myths he discussed:
- You don’t own your data
- It is not a unified digital analytics platform
- It does not use open data and standards
- It uses sample data, it is not accurate
- It does not provide world class support
He also provides an interesting set of charts from research he conducted, of which the most interesting one is the following:
It clearly shows that a high percentage of respectable companies are using Google Analytics (please note that the percentages sum is higher than 100% due to companies using two or more tools).
Google Analytics & WordPress
As we can see above, Google Analytics can be used by large companies and, if you watch the video linked above, it is clear that the tool is robust enough to answer most of the needs for most organizations. There is still 5-10% of the needs that Google does not (and probably will not) solve, e.g. Personally identifiable information (PII), which is forbidden on Google Analytics according to their Terms of Service. But why do some people still not perceive Google Analytics as an enterprise and full featured tool?
My theory is that Google Analytics suffers from a similar problem as WordPress. If someone asks which platform you use for your website and you say WordPress, at least 75% of the people will look at you and say: “Ah, so you have a blog!” Professionals in the area know that WordPress is no longer a blogging platform, it is also a blogging platform, but it can be a robust CMS (e.g. Search Engine Land and Marketing Land use WordPress as their CMS). Google Analytics generates the same responses; many people still think it is a free Web Analytics solution for blogs and small sites.
But if you are a professional acquainted with Google Analytics, you probably know that it provides a large set of tools for tracking, very often not available in the so-called enterprise solutions. One quick look at the Google Analytics code site will be enough to learn about some of the complex implementations that can be done: Custom Variables, Multiple Domains, Mobile Apps, Flash sites, and others.
And since Google does not help websites implement and use the tool, they maintain a healthy network of expert consultancies called Google Analytics Certified Partners (disclosure: I am a Certified Partner). These companies are specialized in the tool and have direct access to the engineering and marketing teams in order to provide a service in line with the tool.
Point For Improvement
While I believe Google Analytics is an enterprise tool, as mentioned above, I do think there is one extremely important feature that is lacking, a tool critical for enterprises: User Access Management (as mentioned in this article about Analytics User Management).
As of today, Google provides just two options when it comes to providing access: Administrator (can access anything in the account) and Viewer (can access specific profiles). This division is far from good. In any mid-sized company, the data needs to be more modular, i.e. enable showing different reports to different people. Maybe you want to provide access to traffic sources but not to content, to conversions but not to ecommerce, to browser usage but not to traffic sources, etc. This can be done through the Google Analytics API, thorugh which companies can build their own reporting tool if they have management access issues. But it would be lovely to have that option through the UI.
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